The 85th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 2012 and took place on February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST / 8:30 p.m. EST. The ceremony was the first in the Academy's 85-year history to adopt the phrase "The Oscars" as the ceremony's official name during the broadcast and marketing. During the ceremony, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 24 categories. The ceremony was televised in the United States by ABC, and produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and directed by Don Mischer. Actor Seth MacFarlane hosted the show for the first time.
In related events, the Academy held its 4th annual Governors Awards ceremony at the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center on December 1, 2012. On February 9, 2013, in a ceremony at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by hosts Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana.
Life of Pi won four awards including Best Director for Ang Lee. Argo won three awards, including Best Picture, the fourth film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture without its director nominated. Other winners included Les Misérables also with three awards, Django Unchained, Lincoln, and Skyfall with two, and Amour, Anna Karenina, Brave, Curfew, Inocente, Paperman, Searching for Sugar Man, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty with one. The telecast garnered more than 40 million viewers in the United States.
The nominees for the 85th Academy Awards were announced on January 10, 2013, at 5:38 a.m. PST (13:38 UTC) at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, by Seth MacFarlane, host of the ceremony, and actress Emma Stone. Lincoln received the most nominations with twelve total, and Life of Pi came in second with eleven.
The winners were announced during the awards ceremony on February 24, 2013. Argo was the fourth film to win Best Picture without a directing nomination, following 1927's Wings, 1932's Grand Hotel, and 1989's Driving Miss Daisy. As co-producer of Argo, George Clooney became the third individual to win Oscars for both acting and producing. By virtue of his nomination for Best Original Song in Ted, host Seth MacFarlane became the first person since James Franco, who was a co-host and a Best Actor nominee during the 83rd ceremony in 2011, to host the ceremony while receiving a nomination in the same year. He was also the first singer nominee and also the first to host the show solo. Silver Linings Playbook was the fourteenth film to earn nominations in all four acting categories, and the first since Reds in 1981. At age 22, Best Actress winner Jennifer Lawrence became the second-youngest winner in that category. With his third win for Best Lead Actor, Daniel Day-Lewis became the first three-time winner in that category. He also was the sixth performer to win at least three acting Oscars. Amour was the fourth film nominated simultaneously for Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film in the same year. At age nine, Quvenzhané Wallis became the youngest nominee for Best Actress and the youngest female acting nominee overall. Meanwhile, Emmanuelle Riva (aged 85) was the oldest nominee for Best Actress. This marked the first time in Oscar history that all five nominees in an acting category (Best Supporting Actor) were all previous winners. Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty's joint win in the Best Sound Editing category was the sixth occurrence of a tie in Oscar history.
Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface, and indicated with a double dagger ().
The Academy held its 4th Annual Governors Awards ceremony on December 1, 2012, during which the following awards were presented.Hal Needham — An innovator, mentor, and master technician who elevated his craft to an art and made the impossible look easy.
D. A. Pennebaker — Who redefined the language of film and taught a generation of filmmakers to look to reality for inspiration.
George Stevens Jr. — A tireless champion of the arts in America and especially that most American of arts: the Hollywood film.
Jeffrey Katzenberg — who has led our community in enlightened philanthropy by his extraordinary example.
The following individuals, listed in order of appearance, presented awards or performed musical numbers.
Due to declining interest and viewership in recent ceremonies, the Academy hired a new production team in an attempt to improve ratings and revive interest in the ceremony. Reports surfaced that Academy then-president Tom Sherak approached television producer Lorne Michaels for producing duties with actor and comedian Jimmy Fallon as host. However, the telecast's broadcaster ABC objected to these selections, and both men declined afterward. With newly elected Academy president Hawk Koch assuming leadership duties, the Academy hired Neil Meron and Craig Zadan in August 2012 to produce the ceremony. Two months later, the Academy announced that actor, director, animator, singer, and comedian Seth MacFarlane would host the telecast. MacFarlane expressed that it was truly an honor and a thrill to be asked to host Academy Awards commenting, "It’s truly an overwhelming privilege to be asked to host the Oscars. My thoughts upon hearing the news were, one, I will do my utmost to live up to the high standards set forth by my predecessors; and two, I hope they don’t find out I hosted the Charlie Sheen Roast.” In an unusual break from previous years, producers Meron and Zadan announced that the on-air telecast of the ceremony would be simply referred to as "The Oscars" instead of "The 85th Annual Academy Awards".
As evident by the numerous musical numbers featured throughout the telecast, the ceremony was billed as a salute to music and the movies. In keeping with the theme of the evening, numerous film scores from various motion pictures were played intermittently throughout the ceremony; most notable was John Williams' theme music from Jaws, which was used to goad winners off the stage if their acceptance speeches were overly long. In a departure from having the orchestra perform in the same theatre, composer Williams Ross conducted the orchestra from a studio inside the Capitol Records Building a mile away.
Several other people were involved with the telecast and its promotion. Tony Award-winning art director Derek McLane designed a new set and stage design for the ceremony. Rob Ashford served as choreographer for several musical numbers during the event. Comedians Ben Gleib and Annie Greenup served as correspondents and hosts of "Oscar Road Trip", a nationwide bus tour promoting the ceremony in eleven major cities across the United States. Six young film students from colleges across the country, who were selected from a contest conducted by AMPAS and MtvU, were recruited to appear onstage to deliver Oscar statuettes to the presenters during the gala.
In January 2012, AMPAS announced that it would create electronic voting system starting with the 2013 ceremony as another method for members to select the nominees and winners during the process. According to AMPAS Chief Operating Officer Ric Robertson, the implementation of the digital ballot was designed to increase participation among members in the voting process and to provide an alternative method of voting in case of emergency. Despite several Academy officials denying such reasons, some industry insiders speculated that the introduction of electronic voting was another move toward moving future awards galas to January. The deadline to submit nomination ballots was originally scheduled for January 3, but technological errors and glitches prompted the Academy to move the deadline one day later.
None of the nine Best Picture nominees were among the top ten releases in box office during the nominations. However, four of those films had already earned $100 million in American and Canadian ticket sales. At the time of the announcement of nominations on January 10, Lincoln was the highest-grossing film among the Best Picture nominees with $144 million in domestic box office receipts. The other three films to earn $100 million prior to nominations were Django Unchained with $112 million, Argo with $110 million, and Les Misérables with $103 million. Among the five remaining Best Picture nominees, Life of Pi was the next highest-grossing film with $91.8 million followed by Silver Linings Playbook ($35.7 million), Beasts of the Southern Wild ($11.2 million), Zero Dark Thirty ($4.4 million), and finally Amour ($311,247). The combined gross of the nine Best Picture nominees when the Oscars were announced was $620 million with an average gross of $68.9 million per film.
Of the top 50 grossing movies of the year, 61 nominations went to 15 films on the list. Only Brave (8th), Wreck-It Ralph (13th), Lincoln (17th), Django Unchained (23rd), Argo (26th), Les Misérables (27th), Flight (30th), and Life of Pi (31st) were nominated for Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, or any of the directing, acting, or screenwriting awards. The other top 50 box office hits that earned nominations were Marvel's The Avengers (1st), Skyfall (4th), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (6th), Ted (13th), Snow White and the Huntsman (15th), Prometheus (20th), and Mirror Mirror (44th).
Receiving mostly a mixed reception for hosting, criticism ensued after host Seth MacFarlane sang a song onstage that was considered sexist and offensive towards women. During the show, after MacFarlane is told by James T. Kirk (William Shatner) about how he was going to ruin the telecast, Kirk then shows him the video where MacFarlane sang the song mentioning famous actresses and the movies in which they were disrobed. Several people, including Amy Davidson of The New Yorker, interpreted the song as hostile towards women.
In addition to criticism from the public, especially online, the jokes faced criticism from publications such as GQ, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, and Vulture. Margaret Lyons of Vulture noted "As a fun game, count how many actresses he mentions in this song who are portraying rape victims. Ha, ha, ha, ha, breasts — it's not like women in film do other things, right?" Actresses Lena Dunham, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis and Jane Fonda also commented on the jokes, with Fonda stating: "What I really didn’t like was the song and dance number about seeing actresses' boobs. I agree with someone who said, if they want to stoop to that, why not list all the penises we’ve seen? Better yet, remember that this is a telecast seen around the world watched by families with their children and to many this is neither appropriate or funny."
The show received a mixed reception from media publications. Some media outlets were more critical of the show. Columnist Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly commented "By calling constant attention to the naughty factor," MacFarlane created "an echo chamber of outrage, working a little too hard to top himself with faux-scandalous gags about race, Jews in Hollywood, and the killing of Abraham Lincoln." The Washington Post television critic Hank Stuever bemoaned, "There was nothing notably terrible about the show, and nothing particularly enthralling." Regarding MacFarlane's performance as host, Stuever noted, "What you got was a combination of sicko and retro, an Oscar show hosted by someone who waited until Oscar night to discover that he's only so-so at stand-up comedy." Television editor Alan Sepinwall of HitFix lamented that the ceremony made for a "frequently messy, but occasionally surprising and/or entertaining evening." He added that MacFarlane "had some funny moments here and there, but he missed way more than he hit, and Frat Boy Seth quickly assumed dominance as the evening went along."
Other media outlets received the broadcast and more positively. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter praised MacFarlane's performance saying that he did "impressively better than one would have wagered." He also noted that he added "plenty of niceties with a little bit of the Ricky Gervais bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you thing and worked the juxtaposition rather nicely. Chicago Tribune television critic Nina Metz lauded MacFarlane for keeping "a solid handle on the proceedings." She also remarked that the host "opened with a series of jokes that were bona fide winners, landing on just the right tone: confident but not cocksure". Associated Press critic Frazier Moore extolled MacFarlane observing that he "seized the camera Sunday as host of ABC's Oscarcast and proved to its vast audience that he's a ridiculously versatile entertainer, a guy who can be as charming as he is famously irreverent, even polarizing."
The American telecast on ABC drew in an average of 40.38 million people over its length, which was a 3% increase from the previous year's ceremony. An estimated 77.92 million total viewers watched all or part of the awards. The show also drew higher Nielsen ratings compared to the two previous ceremonies with 24.47% of households watching over a 35.65 share. In addition, the program scored its highest key demo ratings in six years with a 13.71 rating over a 33.45 share among viewers in the 18–49 demographic.
The annual In Memoriam segment was presented by actor/producer/director George Clooney. The montage featured an excerpt of the main title from Out of Africa by composer John Barry. At the end of the tribute, singer Barbra Streisand sang "The Way We Were" from the film of the same name in tribute to composer Marvin Hamlisch.